Rodriguez preparing for difficult Pac-12

Rich Rodriguez is preparing for a difficult Pac-12. Read on to see what he said about the conference, relying on freshmen, and more.

Arizona was picked by the media to finish fourth in the Pac-12 this season, but that doesn’t mean much to Rich Rodriguez.

“Hell, that don't matter,” Rodriguez said. “I mean, it's preseason, right? I didn't know. Somebody just showed me where we got picked, but I didn't even know -- if they picked the top 25 in the country or something? 

“There are a lot of polls coming out. I think there will be some. I think the winner of our league will be in the playoff, but maybe not. They might have two losses because we beat each other up. 

“I don't think that points to strength or lack of strength in our league. I think our league is better than it's been and it will continue to get that way.”

The Wildcats will have to prepare for a variety of different offenses this season, but Rodriguez would like to think Arizona’s offense is just as difficult as any to prepare for.

“I'm not going to ever name somebody else,” he said. “I like to think we're the most difficult to prepare for, but of their games, it looks like maybe that's not the case. I don't know. They're all pretty difficult.

“What's unique about our league and particularly about our schedule is that it's different from week to week scheme-wise. You'll go from a Stanford system to -- we don't play them, Oregon, to Utah, and everything in between. The biggest challenge is the talent in our league is better now. 

“I don't think there's anybody, any coach, I may be the first coach speaking that won't tell you that the Pac-12 is more talented now than it's ever been in its history, and that's what makes it more difficult to defend.”

In order to be successful this season, Arizona will have to rely on numerous freshmen.

“We kind of have a different philosophy,” Rodriguez said. “I don't know if it's different, but I tell the freshmen when we recruit them, we don't ever promise or guarantee they'll start, but at the same time we don't recruit anybody to be backups. 

“If you're a freshman, don't take a backseat and say, okay, I'll play my second or third year. They'll come in and compete right away. The hardest positions to play early are probably O-line and quarterback, but if you're ready to play physically and mentally, we'll play them as a true freshman because the last thing I want to do is save them for the next coach.

“There'll be a handful that play early, and then the way recruiting is going, next year's class, there will be even more.”

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